Rules of Appellate Procedure

Rules of Appellate Procedure Appellate Procedure Rule 20: Form of briefs, appendices and other papers

Effective Date: 05/01/2010
Updates: Amended effective February 24, 1975 Amended effective February 1, 1991
Amended effective January 1, 1992 Amended December 1, 1998, effective January 1, 1999 Amended March 5, 2010, effective May 1, 2010

Contact

Trial Court Law Libraries

(a) Form of briefs and the appendix

Except on order of the appellate court or a single justice, or if filed on behalf of a party allowed to proceed in forma pauperis, all briefs and appendices shall be produced by any duplicating or copying process which produces a clear black image on white paper. However produced, the page shall be eight and one-half inches in width and eleven inches in height. Pages shall be firmly bound at the left by saddle-wiring, side-wiring, stapling, or sewing. If side-wired or sewn, a strong paper cover shall be used. A transcript of testimony or a report of evidence may be included as part of the appendix and may be reproduced by Xerography or a similar process. No single volume of the appendix shall be more than one and one-half inches thick. The text of appendices may appear on both sides of the page.

The following rules shall govern the format of text on a page for all briefs:

(1) The top and bottom margins shall be at least one inch. The left and right margins shall be at least one and one-half inches. Thus, the text area should not be more than five and one-half inches in width no more than nine inches in height. Page numbers may appear in the margin.

(2) The typeface shall be a monospaced font (such as pica type produced by a typewriter or a Courier font produced by a computer word processor) of 12 point or larger size and not exceeding 10.5 characters per inch.

(3) Text shall be double-spaced, except that argument headings, footnotes and indented quotations may be single-spaced. For purposes of this rule, single spacing means not more than six lines of text per vertical inch; double spacing means not more than three lines of text per vertical inch and not more than twenty-seven double-spaced lines on a page.

(4) The text may appear on both sides of the page.

Briefs or appendices not in substantial compliance with these rules shall not be received unless the appellate court or a single justice shall otherwise order. The cover of the brief of the appellant shall be blue; that of the appellee, red; that of an intervenor or amicus curiae, green; that of any reply brief, gray. The cover of the appendix, if separately bound, shall be white. The front covers of the briefs and appendices, if separately produced, shall contain: (1) the name of the court and the number of the case; (2) the title of the case (see Rule 10(a)); (3) the nature of the proceeding in the court (e.g., Appeal; Application for Review) and the name of the court, agency, or board below; (4) the title of the document (e.g., Brief for Appellant, Appendix); and (5) the names, Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) numbers, addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses if any of counsel representing the party on whose behalf the document is filed, and, if an individual counsel is affiliated with a firm, the firm name.

(b) Form of other papers

Petitions for rehearing shall be produced in a manner prescribed by subdivision (a). Motions and other papers may be produced in like manner, or they may be typewritten in pica type upon opaque, unglazed paper eight and one half by eleven inches in size. Lines of typewritten text shall be double spaced. Consecutive sheets shall be attached at the left margin. Carbon copies may be used for filing and service if they are legible.

A motion or other paper addressed to the court shall contain a caption setting forth the name of the court, the title of the case, the file number, and a brief descriptive title indicating the purpose of the paper; said caption shall appear on the first page, typed so as to be legible.

The cover of applications for direct appellate review and for further appellate review shall be white.

Such motion or paper shall contain, at the end thereof, the names, Board of Bar Overseers (BBO) numbers, addresses, and telephone numbers of counsel, if any, representing the party on whose behalf the motion or paper is filed, and, if an individual counsel is affiliated with a firm, the firm name.

Reporter's notes

(2010) Rule 20(a)(4) has been amended to require attorneys to include their e-mail addresses, if any, on the front cover of briefs and appendices. A similar amendment to Mass. R. Civ. P. 11(a) was adopted in 2010 requiring attorneys to include their e-mail addresses on pleadings.

(1999) Appellate Rule 20(b), governing the form of papers other than briefs and appendices, has been amended to require that the cover of applications for direct appellate review (Rule 11) and for further appellate review (Rule 27.1) be white. This will allow the clerk’s office more easily to identify such documents.

(1999)

I. Introduction.

Since the adoption of the Massachusetts Rules of Appellate Procedure in 1974, there have been only a few changes to Appellate Rule 20. With the advances in computer technology that have ensued since the 1970s, the Standing Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure of the Supreme Judicial Court agreed with the recommendation of the clerks of the Supreme Judicial Court and of the Appeals Court that the time had come to re-examine Appellate Rule 20.

II. Briefs.

A number of changes to the existing rule were made in recognition of the fact that briefs today are typically computer-generated, whether an attorney produces a brief in-house or utilizes the services of a commercial firm. For example, outmoded references in the first paragraph of Rule 20(a) such as “standard typographic printing” and “printed matter” have been deleted. The reference to carbon copies has also been deleted.

The 1999 amendment also addresses a problem that has developed in recent years in the appellate courts of the Commonwealth. Judges have commented that in some instances briefs have been difficult to read because of the small size of letters. In addition, today’s computer technology has provided opportunity for circumvention of the page limitations on briefs by compressing or condensing letters. If a brief is rejected by the clerk’s office for such reasons, frustration and the additional expense of producing a replacement brief result. See “Strict Rule on Briefs Frustrates Litigators,” 26 Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly 55 (September 15, 1997). A new second paragraph has been added to Rule 20(a) to address these and other matters of form.

It should be noted the existing page limitations on briefs produced by computer wordprocessing--as contained in Appellate Rule 16(h)--remain the same.

The following provisions numbered (1) through (4) are applicable to all briefs under the amended rule:

(1) Margins. Top and bottom margins on a page shall be at least one inch; left and right margins must be at least one and one-half inches. The rule specifically allows a page number to be placed within a margin. Uniformity in margins will also facilitate the placing of text on both sides of a page of a document, a practice permitted by Rule 20(a)(4).

(2) Typeface. Only a monospaced font is allowed. Therefore, attorneys may no longer use a proportional font such as Times New Roman. The typeface must be a 12 point or larger size and a limitation of 10.5 characters per inch is imposed. It should be noted that these limitations are applicable to footnotes as well as text. These requirements should eliminate the problem brief where page limitations have been circumvented by means of reducing, compressing, or condensing typeface.

Right margin justification (the process by which the lettering on a line is spaced so that the last letter on each line is flush to the right margin) is not prohibited by this rule, as long as the right margin is at least one and one-half inches and the limitation of 10.5 characters per inch is observed.

(3) Line Spacing. Documents are to be double-spaced. Argument headings, footnotes, and indented quotations, however, may be single-spaced. The revised rule defines the terms double-spaced and single-spaced--terms which may have been obvious in the context of a brief produced by a typewriter--so that there will be no more than three lines per vertical inch for double spacing and no more than six lines per vertical inch for single spacing (with an overall limit of 27 double-spaced lines on a page).

(4) Text May Appear on Both Sides. The prior version of Rule 20(a) did not speak to the issue of text appearing on both sides of a page. In recent years, some attorneys have begun to submit briefs where the text appears on the front and back of a page. The 1999 amendment specifically allows this practice. Although it is not required that text must appear on both sides of a page, attorneys are encouraged to produce briefs in this fashion. It is hoped that the practice of putting text on the front and back of a page will significantly reduce the storage problems in the clerks’ offices of the appellate courts by reducing the overall size of briefs.

Where counsel is unable to comply with the technical requirements of Rule 20, it would be advisable to move in the appellate court in advance for leave to file a non-conforming brief rather than risk rejection of the filing at a point where time deadlines may be about to expire.

III. Appendices.

The 1999 changes regarding briefs do not apply to the appendix. An appendix may contain existing documents, transcripts, and other matters that were not originally prepared by counsel. However, in an effort to help reduce the storage problems in the clerk’s offices of the appellate courts, a sentence has been added to Appellate Rule 20(a) allowing the text of the appendix to be reproduced on both sides of a page, a practice that is also allowed (and in fact, encouraged) for briefs.

(1991) Experience has shown that volumes of appendices that are more than one and a half inches thick often fall apart and are clumsy to use. The limitation of each individual volume of the appendix to a thickness no greater than one and a half inches should solve the problem. If the appendix is larger in size, multiple volumes should be used.

Mass.R.A.P. 16(a)(7) and 20(a), final sentence, clause (5):

These amendments require individual counsel who are affiliated with a firm to include the firm name on filed briefs. Appellate judges need to know the firm names in order to determine correctly whether it is necessary to withdraw from a case.

(1979) Subdivision (a) of Rule 20 was made applicable to criminal cases by former Appeals Court and Supreme Judicial Court Rules 1:14 (1975: 3 Mass.App.Ct. 803. 366 Mass. 860) and is unchanged.

(1975) The amendment to Appellate Rule 20(b) eliminates the requirement of “backing” the caption, so as to conform to the introduction of flat filing, see S.J.C. Rule 3:20.

Downloads

Contact

Updates: Amended effective February 24, 1975 Amended effective February 1, 1991
Amended effective January 1, 1992 Amended December 1, 1998, effective January 1, 1999 Amended March 5, 2010, effective May 1, 2010

Feedback

Did you find what you were looking for on this webpage? * required
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.
We use your feedback to help us improve this site but we are not able to respond directly. Please do not include personal or contact information. If you need a response, please locate the contact information elsewhere on this page or in the footer.

If you need to report child abuse, any other kind of abuse, or need urgent assistance, please click here.

Feedback